Wax Mannequin with Kids On TV and Lunchmeat at the the Poor Alex Theatre (296 Brunswick), tonight (Thursday, February 3). $5. 416-324-9863.
Once upon a time, Chris Adeney - aka Hamiltonian one-man band Wax Mannequin - might have been thrilled to see pretty much anyone rocking out to the portentous, affecting and often restrained sounds of his music.
While Adeney's still happy to play for a variety of diehard fans, over time he's come to favour a particular type of admirer, whether he's playing in Australia, Oshawa or his hometown.
"While touring a couple years ago, I met a really neat guy named Wade in Saskatoon, a leather-jacket-and-biker-boot-type fellow in his 40s or 50s. He seemed to take what I was doing at some kind of absolute face value.
"I realized that's how I'd always wanted to be appreciated. If there was ever irony in what I do, it's not there any more - certainly not after sweating and bleeding all over it."
Not a surprising confession from a man whose press material name-checks such over-the-top yet serious folk as Frank Zappa, Tom Waits and Arthur Lee.
Sianspheric member and fellow one-man show Mayor McCa, a friend of Adeney's, has a similar view.
"He's definitely one of the most underrated acts in Canada," he states. "I was talking to a buddy of mine about Wax Mannequin the other day, and the explanation I gave was, 'I almost wanna call him ironic, but I won't, because everything he sings about is honest.' When he sings 'Rock 'n' roll will never die,' he means it.
"People always talk about how weird he is, which may be true, but he's also great. Those people are closed-minded. Even those who say they aren't really into him tend to find him entertaining and fun and think his songs are catchy, which leads me to believe that they're weird for not realizing they like him."
Adeney sees his performances as a work-in-progress. He's trying to get to a point where he can take people from loud to quiet, slow to fast and backward to forward without alienating a single audience member.
It's a pretty tall order, but Adeney's up for the challenge.
"I was having a lot of fun playing loud rock shows in 2004, but I felt I wasn't creating interesting space up there when I could play the quiet songs I'd recorded previously. I wanted to be able to play those songs in front of people."
The transition might have been easier, Adeney thinks, if he'd followed through with his original plan to release two albums at once. His 2004 release, The Price, was supposed to be the provider of raucous rockingness, while he intended to release another disc with a collection of his more introspective, low-volume jams.
Unfortunately, the plan fell through, but the latter album is slated to be his next release.
If quiet was the new loud in 2004, then perhaps 2005 will be the year of the quiet-loud mash-up. Let's hope so, for Wax Mannequin's sake.